Darren Shirley, Campaign Manager for Climate and Energy at World Wide Fund for Nature UK (WWF) has written a blog for 38 Degrees members, as an update on David Cameron’s Cameron’s green speech. Please share your thoughts and comments in the comments below.
“Almost six years ago to the day, WWF took David Cameron to Svalbard in the Arctic to see the impacts of climate change first hand, including a trip to the Scott Turner glacier. The trip was to be a turning point for Cameron and his party. At the time he said: “I believe that tackling climate change is a key part of my ambition for the Conservative Party to lead a new green revolution”.
The message from Cameron was clear: the Conservatives had changed; a commitment to tackling environmental problems was at the core of what he wanted to do. Pictures of him hugging a husky came to be seen as a symbolic moment in the detoxification of the party’s brand. They were no longer the ‘nasty party’.
With David Cameron having been in Downing Street for nearly two years, it was widely touted that this week he would make his first green speech since becoming PM. With ministers from around the world in London for the third Clean Energy Ministerial this was an opportunity for Cameron to live up to those promises from the days in opposition and take the lead on a global stage.
Over 15,000 supporters of 38 Degrees, and charities such as WWF and RSPB, joined forces to call on Cameron to make explicit his support on the EU increasing its ambition for reducing carbon emissions, as part of a package for decarbonising the UK and EU, and moving towards a clean energy system based on renewables.
News started seeping out on Twitter early in the week that the speech wasn’t going to happen. It became clear that Cameron had downgraded the speech. In the end, he gave a few remarks to a roundtable of Ministers. It wasn’t the strong speech or ‘major policy intervention’ that had been expected. With the spotlight on the government’s record on tackling climate change and promoting renewable energy, what we ended up with was deeply worrying and more of a damp squib than a keynote speech.
Given the PM has often seemed reluctant to intervene in an increasingly negative debate among members of the cabinet and his backbenchers (over 100 Conservative backbenchers wrote to him attacking wind power, and recent comments from other ministers have suggested that Britain does not need any more onshore wind farms) the lack of a proper speech is not a good signal on his support for an important part of the UK economy – an area that has the potential for massive growth and job creation.
The mixed messages from government of late is hitting business and investor confidence at a time when we need them to be investing in the UK’s much needed transition to renewable energy whilst cutting carbon emissions.
Given David Cameron’s personal commitment to lead the “greenest government ever” we believe his green speech is overdue. We need David Cameron to take control of his party, Cabinet, and government on climate change and energy. It’s time he showed leadership to the country that will give businesses the confidence to invest in the future of energy and cutting carbon.”
Darren Shirley, Campaign Manager (Climate & Energy), WWF UK
What do you think? What should we do next? Should we make Cameron stand up and lead on climate change and energy?